The Paul Decca Story

The Paul Decca Story2005

Shot documentary style, The Paul Decca Story documents the rise and fall of late 1950’s – early 1960’s teen idol, Paul Decca. The players in Paul’s life recount his story over old photos and TV clips. In 1958 Jerry Dexter, owner of Shilo Records contacted struggling song writer, Neil Starr to write a song for his new discovery, a likeable young kid named Paul Decca. Jerry discovered Paul walking down 17th street in Philadelphia. When Neil sat down to write a song, that number “kinda stuck in his head”.

The first song he wrote for Paul, ‘Sweetheart 17′ shot up to number one on the pop charts following his first TV appearance on the popular, Texxon Variety Hour. From that point on, Neil wrote a string of hits for Paul, including ’17 Wagon Trains’, ’17 Fever’ and ‘I’ve Got 17 Dreams. Former Decca Fan Club President, Jenny DelGado tells us about the fascination with Paul and her accounts of meeting him backstage. The likeable Paul was just as nice in person as his image had portrayed him to be, but a storm was brewing inside.

By 1961, folk singers were everywhere. Paul wanted to branch out and write his own songs. He contacted famous 60’s songwriter PF Sloan for help. Sloan was part of that scene. He hung with the likes of Bob Dylan, John Sebastian and had written songs for crossover artist like Bobby Darin, but he couldn’t help Paul. Sloan didn’t write songs about the number 17. The first song Paul wrote by himself, was the Dylanesque ‘The World is Not 16’. This shocked the nation, as Paul had never sung about the number 16 before. He kept writing and recording, but as the numbers got lower, things got weird and he soon began to lose his fan base. Paul’s glorification of the youth in songs like ‘Talkin’ 14 Blues’ and ‘You’re 13’, caused many to think he was ‘sick’.

His last Sullivan appearance (1964) proved the beginning of the end for Paul. He was booed off stage and out of the limelight, forever. He tried a few comebacks, but the negative stigma would always haunt him. The irony is that, in his heyday, the quiet almost reclusive Paul just wanted to be left alone; now in his old age he’s got his wish… and then some.



Directed by
Ian Harris

Written by
Kevin Kataoka

Produced by
Roland Canamar, Kevin Kataoka & Ian Harris

Director of Photography
Roland Canamar

Edited by
Ian Harris

Music by
Eban Schletter


Ed Marques – paul decca
Tom Kenny – jerry dexter
Stephen Brophy – neil starr
Colleen Crabtree – jenny delgado
PF Sloan – himself
Cameron Young – danny crimson


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